Attitudes about alcohol problems among Psy.D. trained clinicians: Implications for training

Bruce E. Roberts (1998)

This study was conducted to assess attitudes of students and alumnae from 3 Doctor of Psychology programs regarding alcoholism and alcohol problems. It was designed to examine the status of the "disease model" of alcoholism which has become the dominant conceptualization in the culture from which this sample was drawn. A related objective was to determine if subject (S) characteristics were associated with differences in attitudes. Sample data (n = 511) collected included gender, ethnicity, age, experience in the field, extent of alcohol-specific training, as well as data about alcohol use and/or problems in personal, familial and clinical contexts. Chi-square analyses showed that S attributes were sometimes associated with differences in attitudes toward particular ideas about alcohol problems. In general, attitudes did not relate to S characteristics. The most striking finding was the extent to which Ss reported family alcohol problems: 76% reported having at least one family member with a problem history--1/3 of them named a parent; 90% said they had been affected by that problem. Despite the "alcohol problem context" common to most of the sample, and the awareness of its impact, 79% reported receiving from 0 to 40 hours of alcohol-specific education in all of their doctoral training, almost 1/3 of these reported less than 4 hours in all. Finally, despite a lack of critical acceptance for the idea of alcoholism as a "disease", this sample, like the public at large, tended to endorse most of the ideas central to the disease model. while at the same time holding other attitudes that conflict with them. These findings have implications for the training of practitioner-model psychologists.